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3 Questions I Ask When Hiring Staff

Posted by on Oct 28, 2015 in Leadership, Team Building

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As a ministry leader, there may reach a point where you need to add a staff member to your team. Which seems easy enough.

Yet I’ve found that it’s not as easy as it may appear. The mix of personalities on a team is a delicate balance. And adding to a team is like a chemistry experiment… the right mix results in a great team… the wrong mix results in explosive chaos.

[bctt tweet=”Adding a team member is like a chemistry experiment… the wrong mix can have chaotic results.”]

That’s primarily why the interview process for me is pretty long. When adding a staff member to the team I’ve never regretted taking a long time. But I’ve often regretted not taking enough. (Have you ever made a poor hire? Here are some thoughts on leadership mistakes and how to recover.)

Like a missing puzzle piece, the underlying question to hiring is whether or not the candidate you’re interviewing is the right fit to complete the picture. And that takes time to determine.

I don’t claim to be an expert on hiring staff. But I’ve had a few experiences that change the way I hire, what I’m looking for and the questions I ask myself through the process.

This post is not an exhaustive list of the interview process and how I ‘vet’ prospective staff members. It’s just 3 primary questions I’m asking through the interview process that help me determine whether or not they fit within our team.

Do their skills complement the team?
There are a variety of ways to determine if the candidate’s skill level is what you need. The key is finding those assessments and trusting their results. But skill isn’t limited to the needs of the role. It’s good to look for skills that also complement the rest of the team. You might find a candidate whose skills for the position are a great match yet they may not round out the team well. This is important to consider. Your team will go further as a unit when their skills strongly compliment each other.

Does their personality fit with the team?
This is a component that I would argue is equally as important as skill set. Personality has dramatic impact on how a team operates. If personalities don’t mesh, the team will struggle to work together. I like to imagine everyone in a sandbox together. How well will they work to build a sandcastle? Will they work with each other? Or against each other?

Could I go on a road trip w/ this person (and not want to kick them off the bus)?
This is my own personal question. If skills are a fit… personality is a fit… then I have to ask myself personally… Can I spend copious amounts of time with this person? Because I will. As a team, we will spend lots of time in the office together, in meetings, at summer camp, on staff retreats, helping each other, supporting each other, cheering each other, etc, etc, etc. The list goes on. The point is… the group of people you bring closest to you must be people you enjoy being around. That’s what makes a good team great.

[bctt tweet=”The group of people you bring closest to you must be people you enjoy being around.”]

What questions would you add to this list? Share your thoughts below.

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3 Steps to Manage Sticky Situations

Posted by on Oct 26, 2015 in Team Building


Have you ever found yourself in an unhealthy situation?

My earliest season in ministry was both fun and a little frustrating at the same time. It didn’t take long after joining the staff team at my church before I knew there was some dysfunction somewhere. Though it wasn’t obvious… something lurked under the surface.

Hints of mistrust.

Veiled conversations.

Sideways glances that suggested far more than what’s verbalized.

Disclaimer: I think it’s fair to say, everyone has bad seasons in their lives. No doubt there are plenty of people that could tell stories of the calamities of my leadership.  I don’t want to villainize this particular person. My desire is to paint a picture of what was in hopes that what I learned could help others.

The team I joined displayed unhealthy signs though I couldn’t figure out why. Everyone seemed to genuinely love each other. All my peers seemed to have an authentic desire to see the other person successful. I wish I could say that I remained respectfully above the fray. But I didn’t. I listened to the conversations, added my own conjecture and found myself mired in interpersonal funk that felt like inescapable quicksand.

John Maxwell is well-known for the statement,

“Everything rises and falls on leadership.”

In this circumstance, I was staring that truth in the face. Leadership (or the lack thereof) was the culprit.

The leader of this team was unhealthy. She had an agenda that appeared to align with the vision and strategy of the church. But it didn’t fully. And the longer she led, the more that came to light.

She held a perspective toward life that seemed to align with the perspectives held by her leadership. But not fully. And the longer she shepherded, the more the disparity surfaced.

The last 15 years of leading people have taught me that Time and Truth are our friends. Both have clarifying effects on the plans and intentions of others. Time and Truth reveal what isn’t obvious. They reveal what lies under the surface damaging what’s above.

[bctt tweet=”Time & Truth reveal what isn’t obvious… what lies under the surface damaging what’s above.”]

That’s exactly what happened in this circumstance. Over time this leader’s motivations and postures surfaced. In response, her direct leaders worked to guide her to a better place. Unfortunately she was not as gracefully responsive. In efforts to solidify her position, she worked to create alliances with her team. To define the circumstance as unhealthy is an understatement.

Navigating that situation was challenging. But (by God’s grace & some great mentoring) there are a few steps I took that helped me respond in life-giving, equity-building ways.

Step 1: Look for the fruit
When you find yourself in the midst of situations like these, it’s difficult to see things from the right perspective. You’re too close to it. It wasn’t until I confided in someone I trusted outside of the situation that my perspective changed. My friend challenged me to look for the fruit. Specifically the fruits of the Spirit.

Of all the people involved, who is displaying love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness and self-control? Who is speaking life into and through the situation?

This was an excellent starting point. These questions brought immediate clarity and relief. The angst over who was right and who was wrong diminished. Replaced by peace knowing that those who chose to be led by the Spirit would come to the right conclusions.

Step 2: Clarify Boundaries
Now… I had to move forward with creating boundaries. Though step #1 allowed me to see the situation more clearly, I still can’t control the actions of others. I can only control my own actions and the situations I allow myself to be in. I knew I had to have some hard conversations with my leader. So I mustered the courage to tell her that I no longer wanted to be her confidant. If her thoughts were not to be shared with her direct leaders, then I didn’t want her to share them with me either. I expressed my distinct value and honor for her position as my boss, but I simply wasn’t capable of being a ‘safe place’ for her to express her frustration any longer.

The whole thing felt like I was choosing sides. And I guess I was. I was choosing the side that was fruitful. The conversation itself seemed like climbing Mt Everest. But on the other side, it was the best move I could have made.

Step 3: Trust God
It sounds so cliche. But it’s true. I didn’t have all the information. There were major aspects about what was happening that I didn’t know. Things I didn’t need to know. I just needed to trust. Trust that the same God that’s at work in me is also at work in those around me. Trust that those who are yielded to Him will make the right decision for everyone involved.

Trusting God isn’t blind faith or dismissive abdication. It’s boldly choosing to leave the results in far more capable hands than your own.

[bctt tweet=”Trusting God isn’t dismissive abdication. It’s leaving results in more capable hands than yours.”]
Operating in the midst of unhealthy circumstances is difficult. But learning to Look for the Fruit, Clarifying Boundaries and Trusting God can help you build equity with those around you, not lose it.

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